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Last Updated: Friday, 18 August 2006, 08:23 GMT 09:23 UK
NI man vows never to return to K2
Terence Bannon at the summit of Mount Everest
Terence Bannon gave up his attempt on K2 in the Himalayas
A County Down man who scaled Mount Everest three years ago has vowed he will never attempt to climb one of the world's most lethal peaks again.

Terence Bannon had to abandon his attempt to become the first Irishman to scale K2 after four Russian climbers in his party died in an avalanche.

The group were about 150 to 200 metres from the summit when it happened.

Speaking from Pakistan, Terence, known as 'Banjo', said despite being battered and bruised he was lucky to survive.

"We were heading off to the summit, it had stormed for about four days previously, so we set off at 2am. Everything was going well until about 1pm," he said.

"I had just taken off my boots because my fingers and toes were getting cold, there was no oxygen, so I had been last in the party.

Avalanche

"There was nine of us altogether and I had just reached the other Russian climber when the next minute the whole mountain, we were about 200 to 150 metres from the summit, collapsed in an avalanche.

"The next minute all I knew was that I was sliding down the mountain, I was only clipped in I didn't tie in, but I wrapped the rope around my wrist and went down about 30ft, I was lucky I stopped."

Banjo said the four climbers who were killed had been at the front of the group when the avalanche struck on Sunday.

There is no mountain worth a fingernail and there are four lads who have lost their lives
Terence 'Banjo' Bannon

"Unfortunately the four guys who were at the front, their rope snapped, some of them went under the snow and the other two were swept off about 400 metres down the cliff to their deaths.

"The rest of us dug ourselves out, but the other four guys were nowhere to be seen."

K2, in the Himalaya range, is 8,611 metres above sea level and is the second-highest mountain in the world.

Banjo said the only slight consolation for the loss of the four men was the fact they had all managed to see its summit.

"There is no mountain worth a fingernail and there are four lads who have lost their lives.

"I would have loved to get to the summit, but the summit is nothing compared to four lives."

Banjo has now left his base camp near the China-Pakistan border and is expected back in Northern Ireland later this month.

In May 2003, the Newry man and his teammate, New Zealander Jamie McGuinness, made a successful ascent of Mount Everest.




SEE ALSO
K2 challenge for NI climber
25 Jul 06 |  Northern Ireland
Everest climber suffers K2 setback
22 Jul 05 |  Northern Ireland
Everest hero setting sights on K2
09 May 05 |  Northern Ireland
Recalling epic K2 first ascent
30 Jul 04 |  South Asia

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